Fixing a leaking pipe is dependent on the type of leak and your level of expertise. Some homeowners may apply temporary fixes to bide their time, while others will try to take on the repairs by themselves. Although it is possible to fix a leak on your own, it’s best to let a professional plumber handle the job. After all, plumbers are skilled and qualified at doing these types of repairs.
Even if you contact a plumber, you may still be interested in learning the mechanisms behind how to fix a leaking pipe. Below is a simple tutorial with five steps on how to fix a leaking pipe:
1. Turn off the water supply & faucet.
When fixing a leaky pipe, you should always start by turning off the water supply and any faucets connected to the pipe. The reasoning is to drain the water. You don’t want to work with pipes that still have water in them, since this can impact the efficiency of the repairs.
The first step is to find the stopcock and switch off the water supply. If possible, you may turn off the valve connecting the problematic pipe. A flat-head screwdriver is useful when turning off the water valve. The location of the main water supply varies from house to house. In most cases, you can find it in the crawl space or in the basement. When you find it, turn it clockwise to stop the flow. This should temporarily stop the leak and prevent further water damage.
After shutting down your water supply, you can turn off the faucets by allowing water to run until the pipes are completely empty. Just turn the faucet on to drain the water and remember to turn it off again once you’re done.
2. Dry the pipes.
Once you have drained all the water, you will need to dry the pipes. This is because a wet pipe can be slippery to handle during the repair process. Simply find a clean cloth and use it to wipe the area surrounding the leak. Do this until the pipes are completely dry. If possible, set a cloth or a bucket underneath the leaking pipe to arrest stray drops of water from the leak.
3. Apply plumbing putty on the pipes.
The plumbing putty is a compound that can be used to fix the leaking pipes. Before handling the putty, make sure you put on a pair of nitrile or latex gloves. Epoxy putty tends to heat up and can cause pain to exposed skin. Ensure the gloves are not too thick, but still thin enough to let you work without hindrance.
Start by ripping off a piece of the epoxy putty from its tube and knead it with your fingers. The lighter exterior will mix with the darker epoxy to activate it. When the putty turns light grey, stop kneading it. Then, mould the plumbing epoxy putty around the leak, wrapping it around the pipe completely. Ensure the putty forms a ½-inch thick layer around the leak to hold it in place. Taper the putty’s edge onto the pipe to make a watertight seal. Epoxy putty works on both joints and straight pipes.
Once the plumbing epoxy putty is all mixed up, it sets quickly. Give it at least five minutes for the putty to set and solidify fully. If applied correctly, the leaking in the pipes should stop. However, the epoxy putty is just a temporary fix. You will still need to replace the pipe fully or contact a plumber as soon as possible.
4. Replace the leaking parts of the pipes.
For a permanent solution, you may need to substitute the damaged section of the pipe or replace the entire pipe altogether. In these instances, you will need to purchase new pipe fixtures, along with the right types of couplings to connect the pipes together.
In plumbing, a coupling is a short piece of tube that creates a watertight connection between two different parts of the pipe. They can be easily fitted in between pipes, ensuring the connection is not severed even if you cut out the damaged section of the pipe.
You can purchase both the pipes and the couplings from the local hardware store. It’s very important that you get the correct measurements for both items. For the coupling, make sure it has the same diameter as your leaking pipe, and that it’s long enough to fit into the cut-out area of the pipe. Also, make sure the coupling is made of the same material as the pipe.
5. Clamp small leaks.
Replacing the pipes is a significant investment. For smaller leaks, it may not be an affordable option to replace the entire pipe. Instead, you can use a pipe clamp to stop the leaks. A pipe clamp features a rubber gasket that creates a tight seal to secure small leaks on pipes. You can purchase a pipe clamp from your local hardware store, but make sure it has the same length and size as the leaking pipe to ensure proper fit.